The announcement drew condemnation from Western governments, which threatened to impose sanctions, as Deputy Political Editor Lucy Fisher has learned that Russian oligarchs and Kremlin-linked organisations have begun intense lobbying of the Foreign Office.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was chairing an emergency Cobra meeting at 6.30am today.
Fresh booster jabs likely for over-50s from autumn
Millions of over-50s could be offered Covid boosters this autumn, as the Prime Minister insisted Britain’s vaccine rollout was the key to “restoring our liberties in full”. Fourth jabs will start being offered to those aged 75 and over from next month, with a further rollout of vaccines expected later this year when the programme may be much more widely extended. Announcing the end of legal requirements to self-isolate from Thursday and a major scaling back of free testing from April, Boris Johnson praised “the extraordinary success” of Britain’s vaccine rollout. Read a summary of Mr Johnson’s “living with Covid” plan. And Home Affairs Editor Charles Hymas reports that, under a travel blueprint to be approved by the European Council today, all fully-jabbed British travellers will be allowed into the European Union without tests.
How ‘smart’ homes left us hostages to electricity
In the 1960s, if the electricity went out in a crisis – as it did last Friday, for more than 55,000 homes after Storm Eunice caused the biggest national power cut on record – you could rely on being kept warm by turning on a gas or coal fire and listen out for news on a new-fangled battery-powered transistor radio. But technologists love to put all your eggs in one basket. Jonathan Margolis examines how green living in the future will make us more vulnerable to unexpected weather events.
Daily dose of Matt
View Matt‘s latest cartoon as he considers an unexpected downside to the end of free Covid tests.
Also in the news: Today’s other headlines
Clean Rivers campaign | The public are to blame for water pollution, and not the Environment Agency, its chief executive will say today, as it responds to pressure over the sewage crisis in rivers. Members of the public should stop flushing wet wipes down the lavatory and pouring cooking oil down the sink to help stop pollution entering the rivers, Sir James Bevan will say. It came as Ofwat, the regulator, raised the prospect of forcing directors of polluting water companies to hand back bonuses.
Around the world: Conjoined twins keep votes secret
A pair of conjoined twins wore dark glasses so they could not see who the other voted for as they cast ballots for the first time in northern India. Sohan and Mohan Singh, 19, are joined at the hip and share several organs as well as legs. The brothers, who live in a charitable home after being abandoned at birth, cast their votes in state elections in Punjab.